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If a fictional continent in a fictional world had a fairly low population (around ten thousand), would it be possible to have a system that pays the same to everybody for the same amount of time based on effort? Presumably, there would be standards of work and depending on how a person met them they would be paid higher or lower, but essentially everyone gets paid the same amount.

Some Background

Low population (mentioned above) spaced out over a fairly large area. Several local governments suited to their individual territories needs (very different species cohabiting) which basically all combine to form one very large and messy central government. Land is incredibly resource rich and residents/species are also very long-lived. Residents don't need to work and can basically live off land in 'wild' areas, however there is one proper 'city.' This would be where potentially payment would be the same for the same amount of time.

As commenters have pointed out, like communism but without dictatorships or lack of private property. Population growth is basically at zero as well. Population in the city would be around 3000, so... could a payment system like the one proposed work out?

Disclaimer: there are no humans and basically no industry in this society. There aren't really any needs for the residents, and doing work is mainly based in not wanting to be bored, rather than an actual need for products or services.

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    $\begingroup$ Isn't that more or less what the communist countries tried? $\endgroup$ – celtschk Jun 27 '16 at 6:58
  • $\begingroup$ @celtschk it actually is. I will find some time and describe how good old communist Czechoslovakia's system worked $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Jun 27 '16 at 7:00
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    $\begingroup$ @KingofSnakes: In such a world, there are two things that could happen without paying that person more: Reduce the workload for everyone while increasing (hourly) pay/leaving the overall pay the same, or leave the workload equal for everyone, and be happy about more output (whatever happens with that extra output, the question doesn't specify). In both cases you'd probably need to reassign jobs, since there's now one profession that needs less workers than before. $\endgroup$ – Jost Jun 27 '16 at 7:20
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    $\begingroup$ What exactly would they buy with their money? Who is selling it to them, and why are they selling it if they can't hope to earn any more money than they would if they were screwing on toothpaste tube lids? $\endgroup$ – colmde Jun 27 '16 at 8:14
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    $\begingroup$ @sdrawkcabdear: In a country with mandatory military service, this would be solvable: Your first employer is the military (who takes everyone). Changes of jobs are only possible if you find a company that is willing to take you (so if you don't want a lifetime military service, you better make sure you're employable; a very good motivation, I'd guess). A company that wants to get rid of an employee therefore must either convince him to search a new job, or find a new job for him that he accepts and where the other company accepts him for the job. (And no, I'm not advocating such a system.) $\endgroup$ – celtschk Jun 27 '16 at 17:24
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Suggested reading: "The Dispossessed", by Ursula Le Guin. (Wikipedia link)

As mentioned by @TimB, education would have to rethought.

In most countries today, you invest time and money in an education, and then you get a higher salary at the end.

For the communist model to work, education itself must be considered paid work, so that you don't lose out.

Another problem is motivation. People today are largely motivated by money. If you were to suddenly place these people into a communist society, they would feel no incentive to make an effort.

The result would be Soviet Russia. It did work, sort of, but not well. Not well at all.

If you have a rich enough world you might accept a society that only sort of works, if that is ideologically important to you.

If you don't have some sort of ideology preventing it, it would be very tempting to pay people in important jobs more, to attract the best people. (Of course, what is considered "important jobs" might not be the jobs you would normally think of)

However, there are other motivations possible than money. Prestige is the main one. If people know that making an effort can result in promotion to a higher-prestige job, that will motivate some people, even if there is no pay raise.

You could also have a "Inventor of the Year" award to promote progress. Again, no money, just prestige.

There would be a danger of corruption at the highest levels, where the top decision makers decide their own benefits. They would be unlikely to increase their own salaries, but there are all sorts of other benefits they could get. It's not like the US President pays rent for the White House, fuel for his cars etc.

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    $\begingroup$ And yet, in Soviet Russia, people were not paid the same regardless of their job. A scientist would be paid about twice that of an industrial worker, I seem to recall reading a range of about 10:1 from the highest paid (party) jobs to the lowest paid worker. There was also non-monetary compensation in various degrees as you climbed the income ladder. $\endgroup$ – Gary Walker Jun 27 '16 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Gary Walker "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others" $\endgroup$ – Kys Jun 27 '16 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ You can use the word "communism" to refer to two very different things: either the system used in the Soviet Union and similar countries (often refered to as "Communism" with a capital letter), or to whatever system Marx and other writers suggested would replace capitalism - a stateless, moneyless society. As the Soviet Union was not moneyless, and even more remarkably not stateless, the two uses are mutually exclusive. Now, the Soviet Union had different wages, and a "communist" society in the latter sence would have no wages at all. $\endgroup$ – Luís Henrique Jun 27 '16 at 15:25
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Not really a full answer, but still -

It won't be possible, workers who just unloads stuff from a truck and a team of computer scientists who creates software that companies uses cannot be paid the same amount according to the time spent. Also in the computer scientists group, what if one guy comes up with (and implements) a idea that greatly improves the product ? But overall, he is spending less time than others on the product ?

Apart from time you should also consider impact. Workers aren't that important, consider those who have lost their jobs due to automation. The more high-tech, the more impact it has (mostly). So the respective salaries will increase.

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Not in real world or in a realistic world.

If people are paid at all, then they will be paid different amounts. Unless they all do exactly the same kind of work, but then one would wonder why would they get paid at all (if they all do the same kind of work, they would all produce the same kind of product, and consequently there would be no need for exchange, much less for means of exchange, and money is a means of exchange).

But if they produce different things and consequently have a need for exchange, then they are paid for their labour power, at (in average) the value of their labour power. But the value of labour power, like the value of any commodity, is a function of the amount of average necessary labour put into producing it. Now, the amount of labour that it takes to turn a person into a welder is different from the amount of labour it takes to turn a person into a garbage collector, so they will be paid different wages. If they aren't, then there will be either 1) a shortage of welders and an oversupply of garbage collectors - not because people are "naturally lazy" or some other ideological misapreciation of reality - but because welders will not earn money enough to turn their children into new welders; or 2) a shortage of garbage collectors and an oversupply of welders, because all garbage collectors will make sure to turn their children into welders, not garbage collectors.

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  • $\begingroup$ "but because welders will not earn money enough to turn their children into new welders;" Yes, because that's how capitalistic societies work... $\endgroup$ – NPSF3000 Jun 28 '16 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ Nope. A capitalist society pays (normally; crises may alter this) garbage collectors enough that they can prepare their children to replace them. Of course, this is a simplification; menial workers get paid enough to rear their children as menial workers. The children of a garbage collector may well be a teamster, or vice-versa. $\endgroup$ – Luís Henrique Jun 28 '16 at 13:05
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I think so.

  1. As a starter, on Earth, most rich countries will redistribute the wealth among the population. Rich people pay a higher income tax, middle class pay an average amount and less rich people don't pay it at all. The government gives some money back to the hard working lower class to narrow the gap further.By the end of the year, you can reduce the different between the rich and the poor by a large margin.
  2. They are filthy rich with resources! Why not nationalize the resources in order to distribute the profits among the poorest people of the country? Even without nationalization, the country will earn royal payments from the industries exploiting the resources. Ok, people might not have an equal pay but the government can make sure that they earn the same time at the end of the fiscal year by sharing the wealth.
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This is the fundamental problem with communism. If people aren't rewarded for doing harder/more skilled/etc work and spending the time investment needed to get good at it then why will they bother?

Why should I spend 3 years at uni, 10 years learning skills and training myself, etc if at the end of it I get the same salary I could get just by going and stacking shelves at a supermarket?

How do you value the employee who comes up with a great idea and optimizes systems so that the shelf packers can do their jobs in half the time vs the one who realizes they get paid the same amount no matter how slow they are so conspires with the other workers to slack off and do their job as slowly as possibly.

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    $\begingroup$ Shelf stacking is hard work, it also tends to be long antisocial hours.The guy who comes up with the great system for them to save time probably has a nice comfortable desk job and works sociable hours. There are ways of balancing these things to reward you for the extra effort you put in, not the least that you have a job you enjoy doing what you want to do. If the money was the same would you be stacking shelves? I wouldn't. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jun 27 '16 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't. And I agree stacking shelves is hard work. That's not really my point though. Stacking shelves does not require the same level of specialist skills as for example being a doctor... so it does not pay the same. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Jun 27 '16 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ Communism is definitely not a system where all workers are paid the same wage. $\endgroup$ – Luís Henrique Jun 27 '16 at 13:17

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